Various impediments stand in the way of inducing second sight, and certain others may be expected to arise in connection with the faculty when induced. Putting aside the greatest of all obstacles, that of constitutional unfitness, as having already been discussed in the preceding pages, the first obstacle to be encountered is that of ill health. It can hardly be expected that new areas can be opened up in the mind without considerable change and adjustment taking place by reflection in the physical economy. The reaction is likely to be attended by physical distress. But Nature is adaptable and soon accommodates herself to changed conditions, so that any results directly attributable to the development of the psychic centres of activity is not likely to be more than transient, providing that due regard has been given to the normal requirements of health.
- The importance of a moderate and nourishing diet cannot be too strongly urged upon those who seek for psychic development. All overloading of the stomach with indigestible food and addiction to alcoholic drinks tend to cloud the higher faculties. The brain centres are thereby depleted, the heart suffers strain, and the equilibrium of the whole system is disturbed. Ill health follows, the mind is centred upon the suffering body, spiritual aspiration ceases, and the neglected soul folds its wings and falls into the sleep of oblivion.
- But, on the other hand, one must not suppose that the adoption of a fruit and cereal diet will of itself induce to the development of the psychic powers. It will aid by removing the chief impediments of congestion and disease. Many good people who adopt this dietetic reform have a tendency to scratch one another’s shoulder blades and expect to find their wings already sprouting. If it were as easy as this the complacent cow would be high up in the scale of spiritual aspirants.
- The consciousness of man works from a centre which co-ordinates and includes the phenomena of thought, feeling, and volition. This centre is capable of rapid displacement, alternating between the most external of physical functions and the most internal of spiritual operations. It cannot be active in all parts of our complex constitutions at one and the same moment.
- When one part of our nature is active another is dormant, as is seen in the waking and sleeping stages, the dream-life being in the middle ground between the psychic and physical. It will therefore be obvious that a condition in which the consciousness is held in bondage by the infirmities of the body is not one likely to be conducive to psychic development.
- For this reason alone many aspirants have been turned back from initiation. The constitution need not be robust, but it should at all events be free from disorder and pain. Some of the most ethereal and spiritual natures are found in association with a delicate organism. So long as the balance is maintained the soul is free to develop its latent powers. A certain delicacy of organization, together with a tendency to hyperaesthesia, is most frequently noted in the passive or direct seer; but a more robust and forceful constitution may well be allied to the positive type of seership.
- As a chronic state of physical congestion is altogether adverse to the development of the second sight or any other psychic faculty, so the temporary congestion following naturally upon a meal indicates that it is not advisable to sit for psychic exercise immediately after eating.
- Neither should a seance be begun when food is due, for the automatism of the body will naturally demand satisfaction at times when food is usually taken and the preliminary processes of digestion will be active. The best time is between meals and especially between tea and supper, or an hour after the last meal of the day, supposing it to be of a light nature. The body should be at rest, and duly fortified, and the mind should be contented and tranquil.
The attitude of the would-be seer should not be too expectant or over-anxious about results. All will come in good time and the more speedily if the conditions are carefully observed. It is useless to force the young plant in its growth. Take time, as Nature does. It is a great work and much patience may be needed. Nature is never in a hurry, and therefore she brings everything to perfection. The acorn becomes the sturdy oak only because Nature is content with small results, because she has the virtue of endurance. She is patient and careful in her beginnings, she nurses the young life with infinite care, and her works are wonderfully great and complete in their issues. Moreover, they endure. Whoever breathes slowest lives the longest.
This statement opens up a very important matter connected with all psychic phenomena, and one that deserves more than casual notice. It has been long known to the people of the East that there is an intimate connection between brain and lung action, and modern experiment has shown by means of the spirometer that the systole and diastole motion of the hemispheres of the brain coincide exactly with the respiration of the lungs. The brain as the organ of the mind registers every emotion with unerring precision. But so also do the lungs, as a few common observations will prove. Thus if a person is in deep thought the breathing will be found to be long and regular, but if the mind is agitated the breathing will be short and stertorous, while if fear affects the mind the breathing is momentarily suspended. A person never breathes from the base of the lung unless his mind is engrossed. Hard exercise demands deep breathing and is therefore helpful in producing good mental reactions. It is said that the great preacher De Witt Talmage used to shovel gravel from one side of his cellar to the other as a preliminary to his fine elocutional efforts. It is this obvious connection between respiration and mental processes which is at the base of the system of psycho-physical culture known as _Hatha Yoga_ in distinction from _Râj Yoga_, which is concerned solely with mental and spiritual development. The two systems, which have of late years found frequent exposition in the New Thought school, are to be found in Patanjali’s _Yoga sutrâ_. Some reference to the synchronous action of lung and brain will also be found in Dr. Tafel’s translation and exposition of Swedenborg’s luminous work on _The Brain_. In this work the Swedish seer frankly refers his illumination regarding the functions of the brain to his faculty of introspective vision or second sight, and it is of interest to observe that all the more important discoveries in this department of physiology during the last two centuries are clearly anticipated by him. The scientific works of this great thinker are far too little known by the majority, who are apt to regard him only as a visionary and a religious teacher.
_Ad rem_. The vision is produced. The faculty of clairvoyance is an established fact of experience and has become more or less under the control of the mind. There will yet remain one or two difficulties connected with the visions. One is that of time measure, and another that of interpretation. The former is common to both orders of vision, the direct and the symbolic. The difficulty of interpretation is, of course, peculiar to the latter order of vision.
The sensing of time is perhaps the greatest difficulty encountered by the seer, and this factor is often the one that vitiates an otherwise perfect revelation. I have known cartomantes and diviners of all sorts to express their doubt as to the possibility of a correct measure of time. Yet it is a question that follows naturally upon a clear prediction–When?
It is sometimes impossible to determine whether a vision relates to the past, the present, or the future. In most cases, however, the seer has an intuitive sense of the time-relations of a vision which are borne in upon him with the vision itself. It will generally be observed that in ordinary mental operations the time sense is subject to localization, and a distinct throw of the mind will be experienced when speaking of the past and the future. Personally I find the past to be located on my left and the future on my right hand, but others inform me that the habit of mind, places the past behind and the future in front of them, while others again have the past beneath their feet and the future over their heads. It is obviously a habit of mind, and this usually inheres in the visionary state so that a sense of time is found to attach to all visions, though it cannot be relied upon to register on every occasion. But also it is frequently found that there is an automatic allocation of the visions, those that are near of fulfilment being in the foreground of the field, the approximate in the middle ground, and the distant in the background; position answering to time interval. In such case the vision has a certain definition or focus according to the degree of its proximity. These points are, however, best decided by empiricism, and rarely does it happen that the intuitive sense of the seer is at fault when allowed to have play.
The other difficulty, to which I have referred, that of interpretation of symbols when forming the substance of the vision, may be dealt with somewhat more fully. Symbolism is a universal language and revelation most frequently is conveyed by means of it. As a preliminary to the study of symbolism the student should read Swedenborg’s _Hieroglyphical Key to Natural and Spiritual Mysteries_, one of the earliest of his works and in a great measure the foundation of his thought and teaching. The Golden Book of Hermes containing the twenty-two Tarots is open to a universal interpretation as may be seen from the works of the Kabalists, and in regard to their individual application may be regarded in a fourfold light, having reference to the spiritual, rational, psychic and physical planes of existence. It is by means of symbols that the spiritual intelligences signal themselves to our minds, and the most exalted vision is, as an expression of intelligence, only intelligible by reason of its symbolism. Something more may be said in regard to the interpretation of symbols which may possibly be of use to those who have made no special study of the subject, and this may conveniently form the material of another chapter.
by Sepharial VI.